Erna Rosenstein

Born 1913 in Lviv, died 2004 in Warsaw. 

Erna Rosenstein was a painter and poet as well as an author of drawings and assemblages. She studied at the Wiener Frauen Akademie in 1932–1934, and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (under Wojciech Weiss) in 1934–1936. Associated with the Grupa Krakowska collective, she was particularly close friends with Jonasz Stern; she was a keen supporter of the leftwing  movement. During the war Rosenstein was in the Lviv ghetto and following her parents’ tragic death she went into hiding in Warsaw. Memory of the traumatic wartime experiences would form a recurring theme throughout her work. Based in Warsaw from 1949, she joined the reactivated Grupa Krakowska in 1957.

Highly personal, poetic and utterly free of any limitations or influences, the work of Erna Rosenstein can generally be classified as surrealist. She perceived the creative process as a free, intuitive and irrational act. ‘I knew that something within myself wanted to come out and only I was able to see it and express it’, she said (‘Na pewno mu nie przeszkadzałam. Rozmowa z Erną Rosenstein’, in Śnił mi się Artur Sandauer, ed. Józef Baran, Kraków, 1992). One can hardly trace a clear line of development in her stylistically diverse oeuvre. Early on, she eschewed figuration on behalf of abstraction, which better suited her  imagination. In the 1960s, her works are filled with organic forms of great vitality, but later the compositions become more disciplined, dominated by elaborately complex lines tracing quasi-architectural structures, mysterious signs, or hieroglyphs. An important facet of Rosenstein’s practice were objects, intriguing and sophisticated, created with old or discarded items. Besides their purely visual value, it is precisely hidden meanings, surprising connotations and reflections that give her works their lasting power.


Artist's works in the Zachęta collection

  • Zdjęcie pracy Eternity Breeds the Moment
    Eternity Breeds the MomentErna Rosenstein1982
  • Zdjęcie pracy Fountain of Fire and Silence
    Fountain of Fire and SilenceErna Rosenstein1982
  • Zdjęcie pracy Twilight of the Painting
    Twilight of the PaintingErna Rosenstein1978
  • Zdjęcie pracy A Bower Far Away
    A Bower Far AwayErna Rosenstein1977
  • Zdjęcie pracy Burning of the Witch
    Burning of the WitchErna Rosenstein1966
  • Zdjęcie pracy Fountain
    FountainErna Rosenstein1965
  • Grafika do wystawy Beyond Cybis
    15.09 – 16.12.2018
    Beyond Cybis

    This cross-sectional exhibition of Polish 20th and 21st century painting includes a wide range of works by outstanding Polish artists of different generations — representatives of the key currents of art history and contemporary artistic trends. The exhibition features, among others, contemporary classics, artists representing conceptual attitudes, educators and experimenters, as well as artistic personalities that are worth reminding to the broader audience, who are now relegated to the sidelines of art history.

    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta
  • Grafika do wystawy Just After the War
    03.10.2015 – 10.01.2016
    Just After the War

    Is the key period in modern Polish history of 1944–1949 equally important in the field of art? How were the first years of the new, dynamically changing socio-political reality and atmosphere, on the one hand the “euphoria of rebuilding” and on the other the “Great Fear” interpreted by artists? The exhibition is an attempt to answer the question as to how the complicated social moods and political tensions in post-war Poland found their expression in the visual arts, photographs, film and also architecture and design.

    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta
  • Grafika do wystawy TRUTH BEAUTY GOODNESS
    15.04 – 19.07.2015
    From the Zachęta Collection

    The latest presentation of the collection in the Raczyński tenement building on Małachowski Square, just opposite Zachęta is entitled TRUTH BEAUTY GOODNESS.

    Kamienica Hrabiego RaczyńskiegoKamienica Hrabiego Raczyńskiego
  • Grafika do wystawy Erna Rosenstein
    11.05 – 31.05.1967
    Erna Rosenstein
    Zachęta Central Bureau of Art Exhibitions (CBWA)CBWA